As we gradually return to normality after the festive season so the time has come for the first Words And Music of the New year. But before seeing what 2017 has in store for us all it is time to go back to the event which started the poetic festivities and look back on the December edition of our event and I have to say we saw 2016 out in far greater heart than was the case in 2015 which with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the club turned out to be our last Christmas in the place we called home for 25 years.
As the crowd began to assemble for our first Tin Hut Christmas cracker it was good friends both old and new among the gathering and I could sense an air of optimism in the company which hadn’t been there in our last Christmas at the venue formerly known as Sammy’s.
Don’t get me wrong, we made the most of it and had a good night, but now settled in our new home, we could sense we were going to have the Christmas cracker to end them all and give a right good Christening.
As is now customary I opened the night and with this being our festive event I started the night with Christmas At Carol’s. This poem is my comic look at that friend you know the one we’ve all got that starts singing Christmas songs on the 1st of November though we secretly suspect she’s rehearsing them since Easter Monday. Anyway it seemed to get the job done and now the night could proceed as normal, or at least as normal as you’re at a Tin Hut Event.
As I gave way to the open mic crowd it was one of our newer members Angie Strachan who was next up to entertain us and she did so by reading a poem written in the style of Burns for what she said was the most Scottish wedding she had ever attended. This was despite of or maybe because of the fact that the happy couple came from Wales and The Czech Republic. Angela then followed this with a poem entitled Nickola Tesla’s Bird and finished up her set with a brilliant and thought provoking poem on Armistice Day.
Next up was our other new face Mary Wilson who read two pieces Time And I and Sam. During her second Mary got a wee bit emotional and apologised to us for doing so. Not that any of us thought an apology was necessary as it was quite obvious that this was a very emotional piece of work and the fact that she felt moved by the story she was sharing with us made us feel all the more privileged to hear it.
After such an emotional piece I hoped we may get a wee bit of humour to lighten the tone and Alex Frew delivered exactly what the doctor ordered with his first piece From The Pulpit for which Alex assured us he had done research as this poem was made up entirely from lines spoken in church by men of the cloth. Alex then slightly more serious for his second piece Moon Boot Muriel Is Going To Barbados. This piece was written about a real character that Alex knew from working in day care and was related with a warmth and sensitivity with which I’m sure she would have been pleased. For his final piece Homer The Winner Alex returned to his more natural comic style as he took what I would say was a deserved swipe at home town winners in poetry slams and knowing that scene well I think it’s safe to say that the bold Mr Frew could touch a few raw nerves with this one. Fortunately though those sensative souls weren’t in attendence and those of us who were there throughhly enjoyed it.
Next to the stage was Alex’s friend and sparing partner Andy Fleming. As Alex And Andy were the featured musicians Andy’s set was like Alex’s a mere taster of what we would be in for later in the evening but boy that taster was good as he performed the Sex Pistols classic Anarchy In The UK and his own rather unique Christmas classic Grandma’s Turkey which I’m convinced would be the perfect song to get him the Christmas number one.
Andy was followed by Chris Young and on this occasion Chris started with a brilliant and thought provoking poem in which he examined what his life could have been like he been born female in If I Were A Woman. This is a poem of genuine quality and had many of us in sitting in silence and in awe as as Chris took us on this journey and asked some people to step out of there comfort zone.
Speaking as someone who is a transsexual woman as lives the life Chris is asking others to imagine I must admit I loved this poem and could readily identity with what he had to say. However just when we thought it was safe and Chris was going to be sensible he pulled his Christmas cracker and out came Aunt Matilda for her seasonal visit. This parody of Christmas to the tune of Good King Wenceslaus is one of my festive favourites mainly due to the chaos which this seasonal relative seems to cause.
Having had visits from the Words and Music version of the three wise men it was time for a woman to restore some sanity to the proceedings and Susan Milligan was the woman chosen to provide us with something different. She did this with a cracking wee set of two poems and a song. In keeping with the spirit of the evening Susan read Resolutions and Santa’s Dilemma and concluded with a song which through not a traditional song was a classic Christmas number one. The song in question was The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and I have to say she more than did it justice.
Next up was a man who I know celebrates Christmas but like me remembers the reason for the season and Jim Ewing gave us a cracking set as he looked back on the year. In an excellent set Jim read two of his most poignant poems as he paid tribute to both David Bowie and the victims of the Orlando massacre before lightening the mood with his last poem Gay When I’m Sober And Straight When I’m Drunk.
As Jim went back to his seat it was the turn of Suzanne Egerton to lead us to the bar break. For those who don’t know Suzanne will be our featured first foot and take in to us 2017 and she showed why with two brilliant pueces the heartwrenching Auntie May Declines , and the hillirious Snow Black which is her personal take on the Snow White story and if you ask me snow black had at least initially a lot more fun.
After the break we finally opened our featured cracker and who did we find but Jane Overton. Jane to me is the idel featured writer for an occasion like this. With her mixture of humour and pathos she has a catalogue of poem which any poet would be proud to call their own. Jane started her set with something we all need at Christmas just in case we have to take that unwanted present from our very own Aunt Matilda back to where she got it.
This was followed by her excellent take on the classics, and she read on an Old Woman In A Hurry, This poem contained one of best phrases I’ve heard in a long when Jane mentioned the Glam Reiper. I don’t know why but I just love the messsge of this image, it’s as if a scary ghost comes to visit women of a certain age to tell us our days of getting dolled up are over.
In her next poem which is on the topic of art, this versatile poet switches the focus from maturity to youth as she tells us that Antonia Gormley Aged 15 Considers Her Future. After showing us a teenager considering her future Jane herself considered religion in an thought provoking piece titled Absolution. This was followed by yet more cracking poems which showcase the variety of work including Balance Of Probabilities, Self Portrait, Lullaby In Pink, Convenience Dreams, and one that every poet will like In The New Small Print.
In Unreal Estate Jane wrote a poem on property and still managed to make it entertaining. This to me illustrates that the festive period really is the season of miracles. Jane then finished her set by performing her Christmas classic I Have Watched Too Many Cop Show Christmas Specials. This concluded a set which was enjoyable, educational, and highly entertaining and kept the audience engaged from start to finish.
Now there are times when the featured musician is the sensible voice of reason after some featured writers. This however was not one of those occasions. Well it couldn’t be because the featured musician was Andy Fleming with a guest appearance from Alex Frew. To say this was comedy gold of the thought provoking kind doesn’t even begin to do it justice though it is a very accurate description.
It was Andy who was first to take the stage and he opened what would turn out to be an extended set with The BLR Has Ruined My Sex Machine. This strangely titled introductory piece was followed by the song with the title every show, or Christmas panto hopes they never will see One Star Review. After this Andy performed An Obituary For Che Frobisher and Nosferatu The Vampire. Well Andy always likes to look at the unusual aspects of life and they certainly don’t come any more unusual, than the man who was the topic of the first song for which Alex joined him on stage the one and only David Icke.
This was followed by the nearest they will ever get to a Christian song as they used their considerable talents to remind us of the consequences of disobeying the Lord with a song titled Jesus Will Kick Your Sorry Ass.
Having dealt with God this dynamic duo then delved in to the world of nursery rhymes giving it their satirical treatment in Nursery Rhyme Calypso. This one always goes down well the Words And Music crowd as does the one they followed it with, well even when it’s not Christmas the Pound Shop song is always a winner.
After these two traditional favourites they then played Toilet Cubicles In A Field. This is a first hand account of what life is like on the last day of a festival and trust me it makes me glad I don’t really do the outdoor festival scene. They concluded the set with their classic song There’s No Mention Of The Clitoris In The Bible as they brought to an end one of the amazing featured bills that Words and Music has had the privilege to enjoy. On thanking both the guys and Jane for making the night so majestic I was minded to inform the gathering that in 1983 Fun Boy Three released a song entitled the lunatics have taken over the asylum and this fantastic featured bill proved that not only had they done it but they done it style and brought smiles however all round as they did so.
Following these two wise men and a very wise woman would under normal circumstances be a very difficult job, however this is words and music and we don’t normal under any circumstances. Fortunately our penultimate performer Pete Faulkner has been part of the words and music family for long enough to know we don’t do normal under any circumstances.
On this occasion Pete read two pieces. Museum Of Winter and The Forge. Whilst I enjoyed both pieces I particularly liked his first poem in which he shared memories of his formative years in home city of Dundee. To me these poems in which geography and childhood memories play a significant part show Pete at his best and illustrate the strengths of a poetic storyteller who takes his audience on a geographic journey through time and space with place used to ground us in the memories he creates.
As Pete left the stage I was up to me to bring both the night and the year to a close and at this Christmas cracker I did it the only way I know how by getting out the Christmas poems and seeing the year out in style.
I started my set with The Best Christmas Present. Then having lulled the gathering in to a false sense of security by starting off with a sensible poem, I thought it was time to liven the place with a bit of seasonal comedy by reading Stocking Thriller.
Of all my Christmas poems one has to be my favourite as it is ever so slightly suggestive and tells the tale of a romantic adventure which goes tragically wrong I then decided despite protests from
the music lovers union to sing my take on the Cliff Richard Christmas hit entitled Mistletoe And Whine. Thankfully there were no Cliff fans in the crowd or at least no-one who was willing to admit to being a Cliff fan so I think I just about got away with it.
Anyway, with the musical interlude completed it was time to get back to the poetry and my penultimate poem of the year Watching The Night told the story of the arrival of the baby Jesus in slightly more Glaswegian terms than you’d find in Luke Chapter 2. Those who know their bible will get the reference.
As for my final poem of 2016 I ended the Christmas cracker in what has become the traditional way in the last few years by performing Christmas Lies or if your diplomatic to your relatives than I would be when you get that unwanted, present you can think of no earthly use for Just What I’ve Always Wanted. This one always gets a good reaction and is the perfect way to bring the curtain down on what was a year that got better for us the longer I went on.
When we started 2016 little did we know that our January edition would be the last at our old home and due to circumstances beyond our control we had an enforced break until we June as we searched for new premises When we eventually reconvened in June, we did so not only our plush new surroundings but also on a different night of the week as first Monday’s at Sammy’s became first Tuesdays at the Pollok Ex-Servicemen’s club or as we’ve come to know it the Tin Hut and as we end the year our club has consolidated our place in our home and goes from strength as a part of the Glasgow spoken word scene. So as I look back on the night and the year, I think I can say that when two wise men and a very wise woman shared their stories and songs to make merry the rest of the company were watching the night and that’s just what we always wanted.
Love And Best Wishes